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capital truths of the Bible are be- ing ardent thanks for the lovingfore_ our eyes. By this means we - kindness of God towards themhave an absolute security from selves and all men; while this abusing any part of the word of grand business is carrying on, a God. And those who dare de- total inattention is visible in many spise (as if they knew enough, per- countenances. Their entertain'. severing by prayer to be taught by ment seems only to begin when the Spirit of God) what is con- the preacher has taken his text! tained in his holy word, fall into Gross ignorance! Impious Indepernicious errors; wrest some pas- cency! Professed believers, can sages of Scripture to contradict you imagine you shall ever receive. others; or grow violently zealous profit in one means of grace, for. doctrines, but very cold re- whilst you pour contempt on anospecting that heavenly mind those ther? or that, after passing through doctrines are revealed to produce. the time of divine worship without Our profiting will then only ap- any exercise of repentance, love, pear, when, after the example of and devotion, you can be in a fit David and St. Paul, we pray, disposition to attend to the things from deep conviction, that we which shall be delivered from the cannot be properly affected with pulpit? Be undeceived; it is nowhat we believe, unless we are di- velty and curiosity by which you vinely taught; and that if any man are pleased, in all the discourses thinketh that he knoweth any which you extol. On the conthing as he ought to know, that trary, I would have you, dear Sir, man knoweth nothing
raise your expectations very high, Secret prayer and devout study of the good you are to receive of the Bible will prepare you to from first. praying with the conworship in the house of God. And gregation, as a child of God, by here you need beware of a fatal er- faith in Christ Jesus, before you ror, common among those who hear the. pastors of his church. love to hear the Gospel : assured There is a necessity for this : it is from the oracles of God, that intended to prepare and soften the preaching the Gospel is the ap- ground for receiving the good pointed means to convert sinners, seed, and to open the heart for and they knowing they were believing and obeying the truth, themselves illuminated in this way, Remember, though preaching not a few disparage shamefully Christ is ordained to gather in the public worship; as if all good to outcasts ; when gathered, they are the soul was to come through the to offer up prayers and praises, inspeaker, none from calling with tercessions and thanksgiving, a one heart and voice upon the name pure offering in righteousness. of the Lord in his own house. Remember, that hearing will very Hence, while both, minister and soon cease for ever-spiritual worpeople should be abased before ship is immortal. Had we there. God, in confession of their vile- fore our choice, whether Paul ness; should be pleading in the should preach to us, or call us to full assurance of faith, the sacri- fall low on our knees with him in fice and intercession of Christ for prayer, we must prefer the latter; pardon; should be earnestly im., because every one had much raploring more grace, to serve the ther come into the presence of his Lord to all well-pleasing ;'should, sovereign to ask what he has prowith flaming love to all mankind, mised to bestow, than hear anobe recommending them to the ten- ther extol him ever so highly. An der care of our heavenly Father; itching ear is a disease dangerous and be filled with joy, in return and epidemical; and if hearing has
not made us love the house of pany with profane and voluptuous prayer, it is hard to conceive it men, to consort with them, and be can have done us any good at all. guiltless. The command is per
You will not misconstrue these emptory : “ Go from the presence remarks, as if they insinuated that of a man, as soon as thou perceivest preaching Christ is not of the ut- the words of wisdom are not in most importance, and what all him.” The warning is merciful, Christians must value and attend and very alarming : “ A compato. This preaching conquered nion of fools shall be destroyed.” the bloody-minded persecutors in And lest worldly interests, or a reJuden, and brought thousands to maining love for the witty, enadore Christ crucified. This sub- livened conversation of profane dyed the heathen world ; and every people, should bribe us to believe Church of Christ owes its exist- we may sometimes associate with ence, preservation, and increase, them, and yet receivo no harm, to the word of life preached. Our the salutary advice is, " Be not Lord emphatically warns us against deceived: evil communications false prophets, by comparing all corrupt good manners.” Your sowho expect advantage from their ciety, therefore, must be with real, preaching, to the foolish hope of not nominal,Christians;“ for he that gathering grapes from thorns, or walketh with wise men shall be figs from thistles. Our Litany de- wise.” precates almost in one breath, as But do not expect to find real three of the greatest curses to man. Christians, such as you may figure kind, pestilence, rebellion, and them in your own mind, nor scan false doctrine.
their life with a severe eye. Judge Much, indeed, are we to prize of your fellow-soldiers by what the faithful preaching of the ever- you know of yourself. In earnest, lasting Gospel. It is the good as you certainly are, innate corseed, which falling on good ruptions are very stubborn; and, ground, the heart, believing, brings though besieged and doomed to forth fruit abundantly. Only ho- death, make frequent sallies. Hard nour equally, in its turn, every or is the conflict to get the mastery dinance of God. Esteem spiritual over a besetting sin; and seldom 'worship of him, in his house, no attained at once without many falls. less profitable than the dispensing Be jealous of the hypocrisy, na. of his holy word.
tural to us all, of passing a favourTo secret prayer, study of the able judgment on our own condiBible, public worship, and hearing tion, faulty as we are; yet con-, the word, you will add the society demning others as dissemblers, for of Christians engaged in the same the same things we find in ourwarfare as yourself. This is com- selves. Alas! the very best have manded by our God, and is of great abundant cause to think themadvantage. We are social by na- selves vile ; for it is notorious ture, and our companions must be (whatever some may boast), that infectious, if destitute of faith ; or believers in Christ, one and all, are greatly improving, if we make a polluted, imperfect, inconstant, right choice. Love unfeigned to impatient of each other's infirmi. our Saviour, must give us invinci- ties, and scarcely able to be at ble aversion to the discourse and peace among themselves; though company which pours contempt they all experience, as they con on all his excellency and precepts. fess from day to day, the tender Nor is it possible, where the duty compassions of their heavenly Faof men, in their business or office, ther, under all their failures. does not oblige them to be in com Be not stumbled if you meet
with many hollow professors, life ? how weigh the value of our talkative, and full of confidence spiritual privileges, and the weight on account of their supposed con- of the crown of glory laid up for version, and the knowledge they the faithful ? how feel for the have attained in spiritual things. strength and multitude of our obSo it has been from the beginning. ligations to liye in exemplary obc. Upright followers of the Lamb are dience, constrained by love passing few in every age ; you may know knowledge? Though the pastors them by their disclaiming, with of Christ's Church speak on these equal care, all trust in their own subjects, and they make part of spiritual attainments, and the every conversation, we must rumibaneful abuse of imputed righte,' nate in private upon them, or they ousness, and the election of grace; will never duly impress or fill our by their tender fear of offending' mind. Therefore the most distinGod; by their humility and meek- guished saints, before they entered ness, their generosity and com- on any arduous work for the glory passion, and the great benefits to of God or the good of men, did be 'attained from their discourse, not think their purity of intention, full of a divine savour. With per or the promise of God's Spirit, sufi sons of this excellent sort cultivate ficient, without preparing by much an intimacy: they will build you retirement. Moses, Elijah, Daup in your holy faith; they will niel, the Baptist, and our Lord establish you in every good pur- himself, teach us, by their practice, posé. You will burn with desire the benefit and necessity of being to be like them; and, upon leav- often and much alone. Great and ing their company, you will find a many evils grow in the Church, spirit of prayer spring up in your from its pastors and people neg. mind.
lecting to copy these infallible But,company, beyond a certain examples. For want of being measure, is of bad consequence. much alone, popular teachers are Keeping much retired, and by ourpuffed un--thence become contenselves, is most profitable for us all. ' tious, jealous of those they fear as Indeed, when our worldly business their, rivals---disputérs, and abusers is attended to as it ought, and se- of their fellow-serrants. For want cret duties punctually observed, of meditation in privacy upon the there cannot remain a great deal of truths of God, professors of faith time for persons in any station to in Christ are arrant Pharisees. spend in company. And they who whilst they violently condemn imagine, that praying at certain pharisaism; formalists, though they seasons, hearing the Gospel, and know it not, in the midst of perpethen entering into a sort of general tual exclamations against forma. conversation about religion and re- lity; for they can talk, without hu. ligious people, will be sufficient, miliation, of man's total corrup. are grievously mistaken. Unless tion, and the sinfulness of sin ; we love and contrive as we are they can talk, without gratitude, able to be much alone, how can of redemption by the blood of God we often and solemnly call to re- manifest in the flesh, and without membrance the evil of our past life, grief on the hypocrisy and unbe. to loath- ourselves? how feel coming lives of many who make contrition for the sallies of our in- profession of faith in Christ. Nonate depravity ? how, with the thing, in their discourse on these blessed Mary, ponder in our hearts deeply affecting topics, strikes the the sayings of our Lord? how enter hearer's mind as coming from a deeply into his agony and death, broken heart. This profanation the price of our peace and eternal of sacred truths, by talking of
CHRIST. GUARD. VOL. VI.
them with a careless, dissipated fậith, your conduct, and your spirit, does much hurt; and we friends. Be not eager to justify incur guilt, like those who take the yourself, nor over-forward to make name of the Lord in vain. Yet converts by much speaking.. An this must be the case with us, un- irksome truth becomes more so by less there be a due mixture of so. being unseasonably urged. Belitude with society, to gird up the sides, wordy people are set down loins of our minds, and effectually as loving to hear themselves talk ; impress us by much intercourse and novices are proud to gain prowith God alone.
selytes, before they themselves are • With respect to the multitude established in the truth, or know of ignorant and licentious men, their own religion. But in victory you must expect their ridicule and over pride, anger, and all wickedcensure, which by no means should ness; in steadfastly observing every gall or irritate your mind.
rule of holy living laid down by You could not be a servant of our Saviour; in courteous behaChrist, were you approved by viour to all men; in calmly urgthem. “ If ye were of the world, ing the word of God, when some the world would love its own; but, favourable opportunity presents because ye are not of the world, of bearing testimony to the truth : but I have chosen you out of the in these things you cannot exceed. world, therefore the world hateth Wait patiently, and you will, by you.” The light in your mind is such irreproachable and wise cona distinguishing favour, which you duct, stop the mouth of prejudice, are ever to remember. No one and win over some to come forth, 'can believe there are such things and live a Christian life as you do. prepared for them who love God, I wish you much of the presence as you know, till the eyes of their and peace of God in your soul, in understanding are opened, as your practice and tempers much yours have been; and their in- steadiness and love, and a gracicomparable excellence felt, as it ous answer to your prayers for has been in your soul. Yet in your friends, relations, and fellowthis case, “Love hopeth all things, sinners. . May we remember each and endureth all things ;" hopeth other before God; beseeching the time will come, when they, who him, that we may strongly recomthink you mad, will worship with mend his truth and service, by you in spirit and in truth. Mean- great usefulnes, till we are for ever while, love will enable you meekly with him. to receive contemptuous treatment
From yours, &c. and hard speeches against your
THE POOR MAN'S FRIEND.
REFLECTIONS ON THE GENERAL as evidencing our guift, bave alCONFESSION.
ready been considered. Our atPART 1.
tention is, therefore, called at this No. VI.
time to those sins of commission
whereby we have transgressed the « And we have done those things laws of the divine Legislator. · which we ought not to have done." Our delinquency has, indeed, : A few of the sins of omission, been graphically delineated in No.
IV. (Christian Guardian for Nov. they may be complete in Christ,” 1813), where the prohibitions of there is no such thing as Christian the Decalogue were enumerated. perfection. We shall not, therefore, either re- Nor can they plead Not guilty peat or recapitulate what was there with regard to levity of spirit and advanced. We shall rather, since conduct. Many of their words, our Church here supposes her wor- many of their actions, and someshippers to be the children of God, times a thoughtlessness of mind, specify some instances of disal, are quite contrary to that gravity lowed and occasional transgres- which becometh the people of sion. I say, disallowed and occa. God. They are contrary to that sional. For allowed and habitual sober seriousness which we expect sin stamps a man as a child of Sa. in those who cultivate, as all “ holy tan. “He that committeth sin is men of God” do, a constant sense of the devil:" whereas, " he that of the holy presence of the Lord. is born of God sinneth not." This How often are Christians cenis “ the spot,” this the grand cha- surable for their conformity to the racteristic “ of his children." - world! In dress, and show, and
In prosecution of our design, vain parade, they imitate those vain-glory may first be noticed. who know not Christ. Too frePride is a subtle affection. It is quently they adopt the maxims, the corrupt excrescence of a cor- the principles, the customs of the rupt heart. Even in them that are ungodly; not duly considering, regenerate it does not totally dis- that they ought to behave as appear. We are too apt to pride " strangers and pilgrims," and ourselves on our external endow, that between the spirit of the ments, gifts, and talents. We are, world and the Spirit of God there at times, elated with our mental never can be any concord possessions and acquirements, and · Again : Has there not been, in with what may be called the excel. many of us, an occasional conceallent qualifications of the heart. ment of our religious principles ? We are sometimes puffed up, if we It certainly is not always requisite can pray well; if we can speak or proper to introduce religious Huently, forcibly, correctly on subjects. Times, persons, places, religious topics ; if we are blessed must be taken into consideration. with great zeal; if we are highly But we must " never be ashamed · favoured with a constant sense of to confess the faith of Christ cruGod's presence and love; and if cified,” whenever an avowal of our we possess a considerable acquaint- religious sentiments is necessary. ance with Scripture, and can quote Let us not dare to conceal them it freely and abundantly on all oc- under the mask of what is comcasions. In these, and many other monly called prudence. This is instances,," the pride of our only another and more specious hearts” is manifest. ' name for indifference as to reli
Anger is not entirely eradicated gion. This spurious, this bastard out of the breasts of God's chil. prudence, which has been much
dren. This corrupt affection is admired of late years, was set up - more powerful in some of them in order to damp the ardour of the
than in others. They all, indeed, judiciously zealous Christian. If labour to subdue it. But the it were not brought into existence, holiest, the męekest, and the most it has certainly been fostered and godlike of them, sometimes speak reared to a monstrous size, by the unadvisedly with their lips.” Here. cold, calculating spirit of a monthly by they demonstrate, that, though religious publication publica,